On Friday June 26th 2009 I attended the Sneaker Pimps show in NYC. The decision to go to this concert was pretty easy, I love sneakers, I love Hip-Hop and I love New York, it literally would have taken a pack of wild dogs to keep me out of this event. The following is a log of the night’s events:
8:15 pm: I arrive at Terminal 5 with Don Comerica (who, contrary to some reports, is not related to Prime Minister Pete Nice from 3rd Bass) after a 2 hour car ride from my house that is approximately 10 miles from Manhattan. This is another case of my confusion with the economic downturn: if everybody is broke why are people flocking to one of the most expensive cities in the world to the point where traffic is slowed down to the pace that Dr. Dre releases solo albums?
As soon as we arrive I decide I am a big fan of the venue. Terminal 5 consists of three levels with views of the stage plus a rooftop bar. Every level has a bar and restrooms and booths lined every wall of the building with displays dedicated to Sneakers/Fashion and Video Games. While I never say hippie sh*t like this, I have to admit, shows like this are good for the culture. They give upstart companies and artists an opportunity to find an audience and provide a good time for fans for a reasonable price ($30 with tax and handling fees). After closer inspection, it became clear that while “Sneaker Pimps” is known as the premier traveling sneaker show in the world, this distinction carries considerably less weight in NYC, where exclusive shops can be found every few blocks. And while some of the collections were pretty cool and a few of the new companies showed promise, the major players in the NY/NJ sneaker game (ALife, Supreme, Rare Breed, etc.) were conspicuously absent.
After a quick trip around the exhibits, Don and I posted up on the 3rd level balcony looking right at the stage where we would have a great view of the artists and half-pipe riding skateboarders on the stage the entire night.
The crowd was pretty mellow, consisting mainly of the typical backpacker/underground heads that were dressed to the 9’s because it was a sneaker show and a concert. I, however, bucked this trend and dressed like a migrant farm worker with a drab T-shirt, ill fitting jeans and a beat up pair of Doc Marten’s because when I left Jersey there was a severe thunderstorm warning (the kind where The Weather Channel is reporting what to do if you or someone you know is struck by lightning) and I did not want to ruin a pair of Spiz’ikes to impress these people. Also, Nike’s Air Yeezy is probably not nearly as rare as the fashion media will have people believe because there were at least 100 pairs in the house that night.
8:30 pm: Legendary DJ Clark Kent is destroying the crowd with one of the sickest DJ sets I have heard in years. He’s cutting up 90’s classics like “Throw Ya Gunz,” “Incarcerated Scarfaces” and “Brooklyn’s Finest” like it's the summer of ’96 at The Palladium (note: The Palladium was hot between The Rooftop and The Tunnel…do your homework!).
9:30 pm: Clark Kent is still killing it.
9:45pm: Finally some action. New Duck Down Record’s act Facelift hit the stage and despite being dressed like imbeciles actually show some promise. About half way through their set Duck Down founder and member of the legendary Black Moon, Buckshot, steps on stage and does a few songs with Facelift and segues right into a medley of Black Moon classics. During this string of throwbacks, Sean Price wanders on stage and despite a shout out from Clark Kent, is barely acknowledged and does not get on the mic. While it is perplexing why Duck Down’s most relevant artist would not perform if he was already on the stage, it was definitely cool to see this mini-reunion and hear “I Gotcha Opin” live.
10:00pm: A group from Houston calling themselves “Ferris Bueller” take the stage and while their attire and antics causes many (myself and Don included) to write them off, by the middle of their set they have actually proven themselves and have most of the crowd rocking with them.
10:15: An old white woman in a denim jacket gets on the turntables and proceeds to play music that is unidentifiable to most of the crowd and not clearly in any genre. She attempts to recover from ruining the vibe by playing Arrested Development's "Everyday People" and miraculously it works.
10:30pm: Wale comes on and does about 5 solid songs, including the new single. He takes a break to give two pairs of limited edition Nike boots to lucky fans when some clown yells "GET OFF THE STAGE!" Exactly what happened next was hard to determine from my 3rd level view, but it definitely involved Wale threatening the dude and then going into the crowd and swinging on him during his finale, the appropriately titled "Nike Boots." Once the fan was removed (I think) and Wale was subdued the night continued.
11:15pm: The Cool Kids take the stage and do damn near every song they have recorded. I was totally unaware of this group before the show, but look forward to hearing more of their stuff.
12:15am: DJ Clark Kent gets behind the turntables and begins to play some current hits, which is going well until the needle drops on Soulja Boy's "Turn My Swag On" a few backpackers near the front of the stage start to boo and one apparently gave Clark Kent the finger because the DJ then launched into a profane and homophobic tirade that sounded something like this:
"Giving the finger is gay...you are a faggot...you don't go to clubs...I live and die this sneaker shit...they are just rubber and leather...don't pay $400 for $200 joints...I'm so Brooklyn...I told Wale he handled his situation wrong, but I will F**k you up!....I'm so Brooklyn"
He then proceeded to throw his sneakers into the crowd as did everybody else on stage. At this point the crowd was not sure if the show was over or not because everybody that had performed was onstage, Clark Kent's comments sounded like a finale (with some threats thrown in) and every performer was on stage sans shoes.
12:30am: Jadakiss steps on the stage and does a high energy medley of solo material and hits from D-Block/The Lox. This was truly a testament to the power of a good live performer, by the time the beat dropped on "Money, Power, Respect" the crowd was oblivious to the facts that they had been standing for close to five hours and saw artists attack fans...twice.
1:15am: Big Boi came out and performed most of Outkast's big hits and a few solo songs. While he's a solid live performer, watching him do "Rosa Parks" or "Mrs. Jackson" without Andre 3000 is like spending a grand on court side tickets to the Cavaliers and finding out that Labron James is not playing, but Zydrunas Ilgouskas will be getting all of his minutes. It's not terrible, it's just not what you really want to see.
1:45am: The Clipse come out and perform 3 songs to an ecstatic crowd. The performance is ended by either Malice or Pusha-T (I could not tell which one) exclaiming "We are the best two man rap group...EVER!" This sentiment was immediately followed by DJ Clark Kent co-signing and saying "EVERY two man crew has a weak link...The Clipse have no weak link." While Hip-Hop fans can obviously argue this opinion ad nauseam, it was a bit odd to make this point right after Big Boi from Outkast left the stage. Outkast has won like a dozen Grammys, countless other awards, sold millions of albums, made consistently listenable and innovative music and put the south on the map, all while being...a two man group!
2:00am: A full 8 hours after the doors opened Sneaker Pimps NYC 2009 was over.
To my surprise Don Comerica has posted copious amounts of pictures and video from the show on his facebook page. While The Clipse's place in history can be argued, what can not is that Don is the greatest bootleg pic/video taker in the world. I stood next to the dude for 8 hours and did not see him operate a camera once, the fact that he got so much footage without anyone noticing is truly a testament to his prowess at deceit and trickery.